Summary: Chapter 10

On their way back to Garden Heights, Starr and Lisa stop at a police roadblock. Starr panics, imagining the police shooting them. Starr keeps her eyes closed while the police question Lisa, Maverick’s advice for talking to cops echoing in her head. The stop ends without incident, and Lisa reassures Starr that everything is fine. Starr realizes that those words, even from Lisa, no longer console her.

At home, Maverick asks Starr to join him for a store supply run. In the car, Maverick plays an album by Tupac. Starr mentions that Khalil talked about Thug Life the night he died. Maverick asks Starr what she thinks it means. She repeats Khalil’s explanation, but adds that it’s about black people and other minorities. Society fears minorities though they are the most oppressed. Maverick asks Starr what she thinks the “hate” is, pushing her to consider why Khalil and others sell drugs. Starr says they don’t have many ways to earn money. Maverick explains that because black neighborhoods have few jobs and inadequate schools, black people lack opportunities. Drugs don’t come from poor black neighborhoods yet the people who bring them there profit greatly. Drug addicts become dependent on drugs and lose their jobs. Drug dealers go to prison. Many businesses won’t hire former criminals. These factors create a system stacked against black communities. This system is Thug Life.

Starr asks why Khalil had to sell drugs if Maverick was able to leave gang life. Maverick says that Starr cannot judge Khalil without knowing his situation. He asks what she thinks Thug Life has to do with the protests. Starr says that Khalil’s death is part of the hate, and if black communities don’t speak up, nothing will change. Starr realizes that if speaking out is the only way to change things, she cannot stay silent.

After buying supplies, Starr and Maverick head to the store. DeVante interrupts them. Maverick asks who he’s hiding from. DeVante admits he’s hiding from King, who wants DeVante to shoot Dalvin’s killers. DeVante doesn’t want to kill anyone. He asks Maverick how he escaped gang life. Maverick decided to quit after Starr’s birth because he realized being a King Lord was not worth dying for. When the police arrested King and Maverick for weapons possession, Maverick took the charge for King. This left King indebted to Maverick, and Maverick used this leverage to leave. Maverick explains he got lucky, but agrees to help DeVante escape gang life. He offers DeVante a job at the store and tells Starr to teach him how to work the pricing gun.

DeVante asks Starr why she hates him. Starr says it’s because he dates a lot of girls. DeVante protests that he wasn’t dating Denasia, but Denasia was jealous of Kenya. He laments that if he hadn’t been distracted by relationship drama, he could have saved Dalvin. He and Starr share a moment of grief. Starr thinks she can help DeVante even though she was too late to help Khalil.

That night, Lisa and Maverick argue over Maverick hiding DeVante at their house. Lisa berates him for endangering the family, accusing him of helping DeVante because he couldn’t help Khalil. Maverick insists that Garden Heights is dangerous for DeVante. Lisa wants to know why they won’t move if Garden Heights is dangerous. Maverick believes his children are safe because they’re not in gangs. Lisa counters that Sekani can’t play in the street. Maverick doesn’t want to move because he doesn’t want to teach his children to abandon their neighborhood instead of working to change it. She tells Maverick to choose between his family and his neighborhood. Starr worries her parents’ relationship is another casualty of One-Fifteen.